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Prince's passing shocked many. Just a few nights prior to his death he performed to a happy audience, minimizing circulating uncertainties regarding his health after an emergency plane landing in April. His status alone as one of the best pop culture icons ever is sure to live on for the next few decades. Should his unreleased collection be revealed?
With no will yet to be found, now comes the difficult case in the distribution of his remaining estate. Prince's assets, consisting of music rights and wealth accumulated from tours, album sales, and several international properties, fares an estimated net worth of 300 million. This places Prince along the likes of fellow musicians Jon Bon Jovi, Ringo Starr, Gene Simmons, Bruce Springsteen, and Julio Iglesias.
Interestingly enough, what sets his estate apart from most deceased musicians is what he left behind: a personal vault of 2000 works of unreleased music. To put it in perspective, there is enough music to release one album every year for the next century.
I know what you're thinking: What will happen to all of this music, and will we ever hear it?
Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, alongside Bremer Trust, appeared in a hearing to be temporarily appointed as the "special administrator" to handle his estate. The order to drill open the vault with the recordings was given, as Prince did not leave behind an entry code.
Now that the works have been obtained, what will come of it all? Although many would love to hear even a snippet of the goodies hiding in that vault, the fans' excitement towards "the findings" overshadows what the artist's wishes were.
Unreleased works have been found with many different artists after their passing -- Michael Jackson, for instance, who left behind more than 100 tracks.
Nirvana's frontman Kurt Cobain's first "solo album" Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings was released last November -- pieced together from Cobain's home recordings only to be hit by mixed reviews. As writer Jayson Greene critically indicates, the Cobain solo album "marks the point where that exploitation enters the absurd".
On the other hand, there are cases where unreleased songs have been handled more in line with the artist's wishes. As we recall, two months after Tupac Shakur's death, his posthumous album was released under the name "Makaveli." From 1996, six studio albums were released over the next ten years -- with hundreds of songs still waiting to be released with the help of JAM Inc. His mother Afeni Shakur, who just passed away on May 3rd, worked with Warner Bros CEO Tom Whalley in ensuring Shakur's estate would be distributed between charity and family, claiming "Tupac's money and music will be virtually untouchable."
However, when recordings do not have a posthumous roadmap to follow, the artist's integrity is also considered. In the case of Amy Winehouse's unreleased tracks, Universal Music U.K. chairman and CEO David Joseph ordered her demos to be destroyed. "It was a moral thing. Taking a stem or a vocal is not something that would ever happen on my watch. It now can't happen on anyone else's."
What have past artists' experience shown us? We haven't seen dozens of posthumous albums, which may be telling of why unreleased songs are unreleased. If the artist wanted to keep copies of the songs in their vault for personal reasons, that isn't necessarily something that warrants the public eye. The findings of Prince's vault does have its oddities, as not only were 2000 unreleased tracks discovered, but also at least 50 fully-produced music videos that the public has never seen. We will have to keep watch on this developing story, as the outcome may shape future artists' estate issues.
Would you like to see the works released, or do you believe that Prince's wishes should remain bound?
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Your car is looking pretty grimy right now. While winter may still be bellowing away on your morning commute, as the adorable little rodents of Groundhog Day have partially indicated, the worst should nearly be over and we're soon on our way to sunshine, shiny cars, and saltless streets.
As someone who naturally treads between form and function, I came upon an interesting trend for men and how differently we approach winter (although absolutely useless to guys who've never made a snowball before). Men who accept the cold, Arctic pastures as home fall into five distinct categories of clothing style. These categories are all relative to a guy's interests, opinions, and how frost bitten their hands get at the end of the day.
1. The Guy Who Layers
There are also many stylish guys that prefer this approach, as fall can be a popular fashion season for guys, and hiding a highly presentable outfit under a thick-ass jacket just doesn't look cool. Too many layers can also pose a risk to blood circulation, especially when your clothes are too fitted and mobility becomes difficult. Let your body breathe, man.
Layers are otherwise okay when it's not super freezing out and you're off to do errands. However if there's a torrential snowfall and you're struggling to dig your car out from wearing three sweaters simultaneously - leave the fall jackets and triple sweaters in the closet.
2. The Guy Who Loves His Brand Image
He is another demon on his own. Remember form and function? This is all form and zero function. Some of you may be absolutely obsessed with specific, high-end brand names, which is totally fine. Do you, bro. Many of those brands offer exceptional quality and warmth for the severities of winter.
What I DO have major beef with are the guys who buy the fake brand name jackets. What the hell are you smoking? Even the idea of a fake Canada Goose or Moose Knuckle jacket makes me cringe. I understand that you need to be socially acceptable and have otherwise went for the cheaper option (just kidding, I don't). Newsflash: your fake Canada Goose jacket doesn't have any of the actual down that keeps you warm and insulated. Do you even know what that stuff is made of in there? Lets just say while you're out with your colleagues who opted to pay full price for an expensive down-filled jacket, toasty and warm with a tank top underneath, you're most likely freezing your balls off. All because you wanted to fit in. Just pay for the real thing and stop being a poser.
3. The Guy Who Loves Warmth
Photo courtesy of Gotstyle
As an honorary member, I'd like to point out that I'm a very functional person. People like us are out for one thing: stay warm. We actually care about the technical details put into the jacket, and I've nerded out more than enough times about how the Primaloft insulation in my jacket is Forestry grade, and how the zippered underarm vents allow me to "air out" while I'm doing laps around a mall. The technicalities are rather fascinating - it just comes with a much higher price tag. On the flip side, it's total overkill for the guys that don't find themselves outside much; especially those who drive more than walk, have a snow blower, and live in a climate that doesn't exhibit world-ending winter extremities.
4. The Guy Who Hates Brands (But Still Loves Warmth)
He's very much against the down-filled lemmings that litter the sidewalks. Screw Canada Goose. To hell with Moose Knuckle. He doesn't like conformity, and in some cases, may even look down upon those brand whores.
Some people just can't actualize a high price tag. Which is totally cool. I can't actualize the cost of a private jet (yet). Nor can I actualize the cost of a rocket ship. These fellas tend to ask: "Why buy a $800 winter jacket when I can buy one for $200?" To understand the exact details means more money out of the pocket, so it's better to stick to the lesser priced Colombia ski jacket. They keep you relatively warm, but will usually pair better with sweaters and undershirts. I'm a big believer in living amongst your means, so I'm 100% behind those who find a less expensive way to stay warm when it's blistering outside. We're all shivering around the same barrel of fire, aren't we?
5. The Guy Who Hates Winter
Their answer to winter: why bother? They live in a condo that has underground parking or is connected to an underground mall or subway system. If they drive, they probably have a remote car starter built in. They get everything delivered - groceries, booze, Thai food, anything that makes others do the outdoor stuff. Most importantly, they don't even bother with winter because they bought a timeshare or buy travel deals down south for every winter month. $800 for a down filled parka? That's a 4-star all-inclusive trip to Mexico.
Assuming the no jacket revolution is making enough to vacation that much, they probably already own high-end down-filled jackets that never see the light of day. They're just being realistic: if you for whatever reason had to live in a city that offers popular amenities such as blizzards and strong gusts of cold winds, and you had the choice to be out there or not, why even expose yourself?
Which winter man are you? Hit us up in the comments below.
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A reoccurring concern I get quite often as a growth marketer (or growth hacker, for those in the know), is:
"I have customers coming in the door. How do I keep them coming back for more?"
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Hidden beneath the veil of popular drive-enhancing technology such as autonomous driving and all-electric sits a feature that doesn't get a lot of time in the spotlight. Rightfully so, as most attempts have proven frustrating, useless, and otherwise a sad, one-trick pony. It's the one feature that is rarely a top 3 deciding factor when someone buys a car: voice-activated driving.
I could've sworn many of us came from a generation where visions of hoverboards rivaled the idea of an artificially intelligent car like Knight Rider's KITT (which doesn't have that same impact without David Hasselhoff's frothy head of hair). Do talking cars get any love anymore? I mean, barring all memory of Shia LaBeouf's frantic and cringeworthy banter with the Chevy Camaro in Transformers, I do believe there's major opportunity to combine the fully connected car with a smart A.I. that can not only understand what you're saying, but can also simplify your drive.
Alas, nearly all attempts to make this a reality have been demoted to "just another selling feature", rather than emphasizing an awesome opportunity to make the driving experience easier.
Apple's Siri, Google Now, and Amazon Echo have still barely grazed the surface of voice technology's true potential, but in comparison to their automaking counterparts, the car industry still has a lot to catch up on. I personally trust Google Maps for the fastest route and my carefully curated Spotify playlists for tunes, but it sure sucks the life out of my driving experience when I have to pull over to set destinations or change tracks (and yes, I'm pretending that I don't actually do that at stop signs).
If the goal is to keep my eyes off the phone while I'm on the road, when duty calls, isn't the next logical step to rely on my voice to make similar commands?
Maybe not. In October, a study was introduced that forewarned the dangers of using voice activated features. Exposing numerous car brands and their inability to put a real focus on voice tech, many drivers are stuck having verbal fist fights with their car (sound familiar, Shia?). With such small focus and investment on proper voice recognition software, many 2015 model cars with voice-activated features were outed for their improper approach. The Mazda 6, Microsoft's Cortana system, along with Hyundai, Chrysler, Nissan and Volkswagen topped the danger list. Although the study had primarily outed the 50+ age group as being most at risk (which I hate to point out as expected - even my own parents are rather tech savvy), part of the blame can be placed on confusing voice systems, poor voice identification, and all-around bad designs. However, automakers weren't the only ones: even Siri was a culprit, which leads to even deeper discussions about voice assistants and internet usage while driving.
As a part-time car writer, I've experienced my fair share of unusable voice tech, which I generally don't feel bad leaving out of my reviews since most people just don't care about it. Fast forward to this past week, where I had a chance to test drive the 2016 Ford Escape, which includes their new SYNC 3 technology. I'm already resistant to most infotainment systems, but for this week I placed my punctuality in the crossfire by not allowing myself to use Google Maps or anything phone related without the use of my voice.
A few months ago I wrote a pretty rave review about the 2015 Ford Edge Titanium - one of my favourite cars I've had the pleasure to test drive - but I skipped doing anything voice activated. It used the original SYNC system, which I had found slightly outdated and uninspiring. This past week with the new SYNC 3 system showed me good promise; enough to warrant exploring voice technology a little further.
First impressions are everything, which certainly apply to the improved home screen. The new layout positions the map on the left (for driver access) and the music and phone information on the right (for passenger access). As most voice activated vehicles do, the one-touch button is located on the right side of the steering wheel. I blurted out simple commands: "Find a destination", "Play Sirius", "Call Shia LaBeouf". I was surprised that I didn't have to repeat myself much, although it helps to speak with a commanding voice. It was also quick to process commands, both audibly and by swipe, which can be attributed to the newly introduced QNX integration, improving responsiveness and speed.
One interesting feature I found useful was the ability to let your incoming text messages get read out loud to you. Handy for keeping your eyes on the road. The SYNC 3 system also allowed me to explore the entire Spotify database, which lead to some hilarious announcements on my more sensitively-titled playlists and tracks. When it comes to other mobile apps, that's where the fun and laughter slows to a halt - for Canadians, mainly. In the north we (still) can't access Pandora or iHeartAuto, but we can play tracks on Spotify and share our locations on Glympse. In actuality, the list of Canadian apps are still limited to two or three, with hopes for more just around the corner.
Lastly, connecting Siri allowed me to access weather reports, stock quotes, sports scores, text messages and emails. It's also possible to manage calendars and set appointment reminders on the go. I feel the naysayers may consider this the danger territory.
It's true: bad technology will always lead to bad experiences. And bad experiences can lead to frustration. And in this case, frustration can lead to accidents. Ford's SYNC 3 system is the step in the right direction, for both the auto industry and us, the drivers. As voice technology continues to improve, we hope to one day reach a point where we can speak freely to our console system without preset commands. At its pinnacle, good voice technology will allow communication between man and machine to be fluid and realistic. For automakers, improvements to the driving experience could change this marketable upgrade into a fully integrated system that rivals the priorities of self driving technology. With safety in mind, obscure voice features and app integrations would need to take a backseat to an improved and human-like voice recognition system that mimics Apple or Google.
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